YORK looks set to be the only place in the UK not to offer IVF fertility treatment on the NHS.
Campaigners and politicians have criticised the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group for not offering a single free cycle of IVF to patients living in the area.
The Vale of York - which covers York, Selby, Tadcaster and Easingwold - will now be the only area in the UK not to offer the treatment after Scarborough and Ryedale this week voted to reintroduce IVF on the NHS.
The cost to the NHS for an IVF cycle is £3,600, with additional drug charges, but couples struggling to conceive have to pay up to £5,000 a time privately.
Vale of York CCG took on the policy of not funding IVF from the former Primary Care trust from which it inherited £3.5million of debt. It has said it will consider the matter as a priority in meetings in June and July.
The National Infertility Awareness Campaign has written a letter to Dr Mark Hayes, the chief clinical officer of York CCG, to request they reconsider.
Susan Seenan and Sarah Norcross, of NIAC, said: “Infertility is a recognised medical condition that can affect people of any age and has a potentially devastating effect on people’s lives. It can cause significant distress, depression and can possibly lead to the breakdown of relationships.”
Meanwhile, both York MPs Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy have spoken of their disappointment with the “postcode lottery”
nature of the availability of treatment.
Mr Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said numerous constituents had contacted him to ask for help.
He said: “I have made a number of representations to the York CCG, calling on them to review their position on IVF and I will be writing again following these announcements.
“I do have some sympathy with our local healthcare commissioners, who have been doing a superb job in balancing the books after inheriting massive debts from the now defunct Primary Care Trust.
“But at the same time, I hope that the positive step forward taken by Scarborough and Ryedale will give York the necessary encouragement to offer this life-changing treatment.”
York MP Hugh Bayley said: “The NHS stops being a National Health Service when it refuses to guarantee the same access to treatment in all parts of the country.
“Every time local health managers block a patient’s treatment, a bit for public confidence in the NHS drains away. The government needs to act quickly before the idea of the NHS as a comprehensive national service fades away.”
He said he was pleased a Holgate couple, for whom he had fought to have IVF, had gone one to have a baby.
NHS Hambleton Richmondshire and Whitby CCG approved the commissioning of IVF treatment for up to two cycles earlier this year.
NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG commission one cycle of IVF up to age 42.
Group to discuss decision in June and July
A SPOKESPERSON for the Vale of York CCG said the “severe financial situation” last year had informed its decision not to commission IVF but that work had started on a review of the matter and the governing body would discuss the matter in June and July. Following this, a decision “will be available at the earliest opportunity in 2014-15.”
The spokesperson said: “The CCG has a commitment – to involve the whole community in helping it to shape decisions about local healthcare service.
The CCG’s vision is to achieve the best in health and wellbeing for everyone in the community.
“Since the decision to not routinely commission IVF was taken by the Governing Body on the 4 April 2013, the CCG’s Clinical Lead for Women’s Health; with support from specialist staff, has been working to collate evidence.”